Michigan Defensive Breakdown vs. MSU

MSU looked to pose a serious threat to a Michigan defense that was pushed around in the second half of last week's game vs. Iowa. As Michigan prepares to face three top rushing teams to end the season, it was important to get the run defense back on track this game. They certainly proved to be up to the task vs. MSU.

After MSU's success running to the flanks last year, it was reasonable to think that they would try to attack in a similar fashion this year. The obvious difference was that they didn't have TJ Duckett carrying the ball for them. Still, they posed a serious threat to a Michigan defense that was pushed around in the second half of last week's game vs. Iowa.

The Michigan defense actually did a good job of stuffing an outstanding Iowa rushing attack in the first half of last week's game. However, the prolonged time on the field (due to poor offensive productivity and failure to limit Iowa's third down conversions) caused them to wear down in the second half. Iowa subsequently rushed for big yardage in the second half. As Michigan prepares to face three top rushing teams to end the season, it was important to get the run defense back on track this game. They certainly proved to be up to the task vs. MSU.

1st quarter 13:25
1st and 10. Defense does a great job of stringing the run out. Lazarus penetrates and Kaufman gets to the spot to cut off the back. He doesn't make the tackle but he turns it in. LeSueur gets off his block and stops the play for no gain.

1st quarter 12:37
1st and 10. Defense strings out the run play again. Kaufman does a good job of cutting the play off and turning it in. LeSueur comes up again to make the tackle off of the cover. Carl Diggs does a good job of getting across the defense before the offensive linemen can get to him and he assists in the tackle.

1st quarter 6:25
2nd and 10. Grant Bowman does a great job of splitting the double team after initially getting pushed off of the ball. He makes first contact and the play gains only 1 yard.

1st quarter 0:42
1st and 10. MSU tries the stretch play again. Jon Shaw diagnoses it quickly and gets in the backfield to turn the play in and Shantee Orr comes from the backside and hits Moss for a 2 yard loss.

2nd quarter 12:44
1st and 10. Grant Bowman shoots the gap vacated by the guard. He's able to catch the running back from the backside because Gabe Watson mauls Brian Ottney back into the hole. Carl Diggs meets the Back in the hole for the assist. Pick up of 1.

3rd quarter 14:52
1st and 10. Victor Hobson does a great job of staffing the tackle on the short pull. This disrupts the pulling guard and allows Carl Diggs to flow to the ball carrier unblocked. Carl makes initial contact in the backfield and his teammates show up quickly to clean up the rest. Loss of 2.

3rd quarter 9:31
2nd down 10. Beautiful stuff of the fullback in the hole on the ISO by Carl Diggs. The running back is tripped up for pickup of 2.

3rd quarter 4:14
2nd and 4. Sean Lazarus penetrates into the backfield and hits the running back for a loss of 1.

The pass coverage was stellar most of the day. There were only a few breakdowns. The most significant came at 12:43 in the 1st quarter. It was 3rd and 10. There was good pressure up front by the D-Line. They hit Dowdell as he threw. The defense was in cover two but there was a bust by the safety. Charles Drake got caught trying to help on the inside receivers. He failed to get over into his cover two zone and Charles Rogers was wide open.

Overall, LeSueur and Marlin Jackson had particularly good games off of the corner. Jackson had numerous breakups as well as some punishing hits. Ernest Shazor looked good during his time in the game. However, Jon Shaw, in my opinion, turned in the most encouraging performance. Michigan was in desperate need of someone to step up at the safety position with Julius Curry and Cato June out. Jon Shaw came through marvelously.

2nd quarter 3:19v 1st and 10. LeSueur is covering Rogers one on one. Jeremy maintains outside responsibility because he knows he has safety help to the inside. Rogers runs the post route and is open for the score, but Jon Shaw is playing textbook coverage and drifts back into his middle zone to knock down the pass.

It would be naïve not to recognize that the defense was helped by the inaccuracy of State quarterback Damon Dowdell. If any source of concern could be garnered from that game, it would be because of how open the MSU tight ends were over the middle of the field. Dowdell completed a few toward the end of the game. However, he missed them quite often. Michigan may not be as fortunate in the remaining games and I anticipate that this is an area they are focusing on.

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